Sep. 24th, 2009 07:32 pm
velvetpage: (Default)
An HIV vaccine?

It's effective 31% of the time, which isn't much - but it's the first success they've ever had. It's promising.
velvetpage: (exterminate)
Measles outbreak feared in England, due to reduced uptake of the MMR vaccine over the past ten years. Reduced by how much, you ask? It's down from 90% in 1995, to - 80%. That's right, four out of five kids are still vaccinated, yet there are more than a thousand cases of measles so far this year and fears are growing of a widespread outbreak.

This is one of the few parenting issues where I do not believe that there may be more than one effective way to do things. With the exception of a very small number of people with a medical reason not to use certain vaccinations, everyone should be vaccinated and get regular booster shots throughout life. Not to do so is bad parenting and, in the case of adult booster shots, irresponsibility as a citizen in a modern country.

Get your kids vaccinated. It helps them exponentially more than it hurts them, and it protects everyone they come in contact with.
velvetpage: (Default)
But pretty close.

Below is a list of studies done on the vaccine-autism non-link. I'm putting it here so I can add it to the next comment for someone who asks me to prove vaccines don't cause autism. I got it from that kind of comment in s_f - in fact that was the only reason I read that thread in the first place.

The List )
velvetpage: (Default)
Wikipedia is failing me, as is google at the moment, and I've had a request to explain a certain term I used a day or so ago in a community.

The term I used is "grandparent factor," though I'm not sure that's the term anthropologists use for the situation I'm thinking of. When I learned about it in anthropology years ago, it was an explanation for menopause, which traditionally happens in middle age; that is, humans become effectively infertile several decades before the end of their expected lifespan. We're the only members of the animal kingdom that experience a loss of fertility so early, so anthropologists proposed that it might be due to the grandparent factor. Less-able elderly people stayed home from the hard work of hunting and gathering, and looked after the small children who were not yet old enough to participate in that hard work, thus freeing up the parents to contribute their strength and youth to the family and community. The explanation posits that menopause is nature's way of creating an available pool of babysitters within the family, people who would have a vested interest in seeing that the children of their lineage were being cared for.

This came up in a discussion of shingles. I just found out (from [ profile] doc_mystery - it's no end of useful having doctors on one's friends list!) that shingles is not a new infection; it's the chicken-pox virus that has been hiding out in your nervous system ever since you had chicken pox as a child, and it erupts when your immune system is somehow suppressed. The interesting part is that regular exposure to chicken pox during adulthood seems to act as a booster shot, making it less likely that the person will eventually get shingles because their body will be able to fight better, even with a depressed immune system. I see a connection there. Older people who look after young kids are going to come into regular contact with chicken pox, all things being equal, so they're going to get an additional boost to their immune systems every few years. The grandparent factor offers an increase to natural immunity from shingles.

Anyone have any links to prove I'm not pulling this out of thin air?
velvetpage: (studious)
Every time i stand up, I see stars - but I can still think and type! Comments welcome - I haven't sent it to the newspaper yet, but I'm going to. It's about the right length for an article on the Opinion page, though far too long for a letter.

Fears of nascent sexuality in recent events )
velvetpage: (outraged)
I came across The Great HPV Vaccine Hoax Exposed on a community, where its reception contained far too much of, "It's a shame this is written in such a National Enquirer tone, because it has some good information." Um, NO.

So I'm going to debunk it, bit by bit. This could get long. )
velvetpage: (Default)
I did enjoy this one. I am continually surprised, however, at how people who have been reading booju for several years still don't know or appreciate things like the value of herd immunity or that vaccinated kids can still get sick. Vaccination is one of the few parenting issues where not-my-kid-not-my-business doesn't apply, because every unvaccinated kid increases the likelihood of an outbreak, the likely severity of that outbreak, and the effectiveness of everyone else's vaccines.

I have no problem with people looking at all the facts and deciding to selectively or delay-vax, especially in the States where kids get an obscene number of shots at each visit. Delaying a few months or a year or two probably isn't going to be an issue, and if you feel better about that for your child, so be it. I'm also okay with people choosing not to vax one child who has medical problems. But I really believe that failure to vaccinate most kids within shooting distance of "on time" is a public health risk and a bad idea.
velvetpage: (exterminate)
A little girl who was here playing with Elizabeth on Saturday has been diagnosed with whooping cough. She's had all her vaccinations and she wasn't sick before she left home - she started feeling poorly after dinner. Which is to say, I don't blame the family at all.

In other words, at least two families who have done everything they're supposed to do in regards to preventing the spread of this disease, have come in contact with it - probably as a result of someone at this little girl's school who DIDN'T have their vaccinations up-to-date. The problem is rampant in Southern Ontario, especially Toronto - it's estimated that only about fifty percent of kids have their vaccines up-to-date, and fewer adults than that have had their booster shots. (I have - I got it when I got my tetanus shot about two months ago, and now I'm glad I did.)

Now, chances are that even if someone in my family contracts it, they'll have a fairly mild case. We're vaccinated, and recently, though Claire's eighteen-month vax is coming up in a couple of weeks. But the chances of contracting that mild case are about thirty percent, because increased immunity is not complete immunity. Being overtired, being a little under the weather with something else, being in need of some better vitamins, or just plain bad luck with a struggling immune system, can all make people more vulnerable. That's why, in order for a vaccination program to prevent outbreaks, the vast majority of the population needs to be up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Two of the people who were there on Saturday work closely with kids. Some of my students and colleagues have small babies at home. I'm going to mention to one of those that, if their baby hasn't had her shots yet, she should get them now, just in case I get sick and her father brings it home. It's a long shot, but pretty baby Lily should be protected against it even so.

I repeat, I'm not upset at the family in question. They were doing everything they should have done, and informed everyone of the diagnosis as soon as they had received it so we could take steps. No, I'm angry at the large number of Torontonians (and other Ontarians) who think that they're safe because whooping cough has been so rare for the last few decades. I'm angry at the people advising parents, erroneously, that vaccines are worse than the diseases they prevent. I'm angry at the family doctors and other health professionals who don't take enough measures to get their patients in for their well-baby visits, including shots. I'm angry at a provincial government that has known about this problem for several years and has yet to put a comprehensive, community-level vaccination program in effect. This is a public health issue, and our public health officials haven't done anything about it.

Any adults who read this who come in regular contact with my family are advised to ensure that their booster shots are up-to-date. You're supposed to have one every ten years to be fully protected; if it's been more than eight or you can't remember, get another. Whooping cough is usually not that serious for adults, or even older children; the risk is that the adults will transmit it to a newborn baby, who could die.
velvetpage: (Default)
Study finds parents are the most likely people to pass whooping cough to babies.

The moral of the story: keeping your vaccinations up to date (read: every ten years) is critically important for people planning to have babies and people who are often around small children. Also, think twice about delaying a pertussis vaccination for a newborn. Your vaccination and theirs could save their life.
velvetpage: (Default)
Or who need a new bookmark to add to their vaccination links, here's probably the best all-round, layman's-terms analysis of the data I've yet read, specifically against the vaccine/autism (lack of) link. Fear not: vaccines do not cause autism.
velvetpage: (studious)
Genetic link to autism

I wonder if this will have any impact on the people who believe vaccines caused their child's autism?
velvetpage: (outraged)
. . . received about a million dollars from lawyers who were, of course, trying to prove the MMR vaccine was unsafe.

All together now, boys and girls: THAT'S A BIG CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Conflict of interest

Thanks [ profile] thebitterguy for the link.
velvetpage: (studious)
From "Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal" come a few choice quotes.

"The old-fashioned sanitarians could not bring themselves to believe that inoculating people with the foul pox of beasts was a surer preventative of smallpox than cleanliness... Libertarians simply said it was a man's inalienable right to make up his own mind about what he would put in his or his children's bodies, including the germs of the cowpox. The state and its doctors had no right to force any specific treatment on anyone." (p. 211-212)

"They (the anti-vaccinationists) believes that the Montreal epidemic, which had not gotten fully out of control until the authorities started vaccinating completely promiscuously, spreading the poison all over the city, would further their cause." (p.212)

"There were so few anti-vaccinationists in the city by 1885 and the epidemic was so frightening that they ought to have been overcome or bypassed, swept into the dust-bin of history. They might have been, and Montreal might have been spared its awful calamity, had it not been for Bessey's use of contaminated vaccine that spring. It was the worst possible disaster at a time of staggering peril. . . giving Ross's absurd, scurrilous broadsheets a superficial credibility they would never otherwise have enjoyed, perpetuating and reinforcing the ignorance and fear of those who knew no better." (p. 213)

Now, the modern versions, as explained by me last spring:

You tell me. Does history repeat itself?
velvetpage: (Default)
Last week in Lakefield, I picked up a book of Canadian history by Michael Bliss. He is he author of such venerable works of medical history as The Discovery of Insulin and a biography of Dr. Banting. This particular book is called Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal.

The year is 1885. Louis Pasteur is about to postulate the existence of bacteria as disease-causing agents. The cholera bacteria has just been identified. Variolation - the practice of deliberately infecting oneself with a mild case of smallpox in order to produce immunity - has been in practice for well over a century, with between a one and five percent chance of catching the disease and dying of it. Vaccination - the practice of taking cowpox virus (from the latin word for cow, we get our word "vaccine") has been in practice for about fifty years. Its biggest risks are from bacterial infection of the site. It has about a one percent death rate, and it has been recently discovered that revaccination every few years is required for lifetime immunity.

My interest in the book was primarily in the use of vaccination, and the opposition to it and to other measures designed to contain the spread of the disease. Some, we have done away with now; bacterial infection of vaccination sites is far less likely than it was then, thanks to modern standards of cleanliness that include sewage and garbage disposal and hand-washing, not to mention antibiotics. Others, like ignorance of science and a belief that diseases are a punishment from God that cannot be avoided, are still a problem.

The arguments against vaccination in 1885 have modern parallels in the anti-vaccination debate. The argument that vaccination is actually spreading the disease, and causes outbreaks, still exists. Ditto that injecting oneself with poison in order to prevent a disease is a fundamentally stupid idea. These arguments stem from a lack of understanding of the vaccination process, an area of medicine where our knowledge has been steadily increasing for well over a hundred years. Anti-vaccinators in 1885 claimed, then as now, that the vaccine was more dangerous than the disease it prevented. Since they didn't understand about bacterial infection or have a good grasp of proper sanitation, this analysis was a lot closer to the truth then, though still exaggerated: 1% died from the vaccine, while 25-30% died from smallpox. If there was no outbreak, vaccination was probably more risky; the problem was that no-one knew how to prevent transmission, since people could carry the virus on their clothing, in their hair, in blankets, in bodily fluids that came from an infected person, and infection could happen within the two-week timespan it took for the vaccination to "take." This argument carries a lot less weight now, since the risk of death from vaccines is almost nil. The new version of this point is the damage argument: the ingredients in vaccines cause X horrible condition, usually developmental (autism and ADHD have both been blamed on vaccinations.) Even the one that sounds the silliest to modern ears has a modern counterpart. Some anti-vaccinators believed that injecting oneself with cowpox would make humans take on some of the traits of a cow. The modern version is the urban myth that aborted fetuses are used as ingredients in vaccines.

I'm now at the part of the book where it has been admitted that the disease is out of control. I'm seeing parallels between SARS in Toronto in 2003 and the Montreal epidemic. People went to work while infected because they couldn't afford the lost wages. They snuck in where they shouldn't have been to visit the sick. They went out before the were fully recovered. Businesses suffered the loss of tourist trade - or trade of any sort, since no one wanted to purchase contaminated dry goods from Montreal. Vacationers from Montreal had to claim to be from somewhere else, or risk being denied lodgings. Economically, the city was a disaster.

I will get back to you with more observations when I've finished the book. It's a fascinating read, and well-told. I recommend it.

June 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags